If a game is receiving awards even before it’s been released, you can be fairly confident that it’s going to be something worth playing when it gets completed. The Town of Light could be one of these games. It’s received two awards for excellence in storytelling, and in a psychological horror game that promises no jump scares, the story is going to have to be something special. To LKA.it’s credit they have put together the beginnings of quite a compelling tale, but there are other parts to this game which are equally as exciting.
It’d be a crime to launch straight into writing about the other aspects of the game when the main talking point is the story itself. You begin the game without any prior knowledge of who, or where you are. What you’ll quickly find out is that as you play, you’ll be wandering around a haunting mental institution, which has been abandoned decades ago, in Italy. At first you’ll likely be scrounging for information, as it’s very scarce in the beginning, but as you approach the main facility building, you’ll notice more and more scraps of paper, each of which can be picked up and examined in detail to glean more information about the protagonist, Renée, and your surroundings. It may be a little bit of a struggle to really learn too much if you’re not well versed in Italian, but each scrap of paper you find can normally be interpreted with a little thinking (or, failing that, Google Translate).
Although there is still a fair bit to go on the way to becoming a full release, the core ideas and gameplay are fairly well settled and provide a good base for the developers to build from. The best feature is the artistry throughout the game, and it’s not a surprise that they’ve managed to create some fantastic areas, as they boast a sizable team dedicated to producing some wonderful visuals. The team did have some fantastic inspiration, as the entire game world is based off the real world asylum on Poveglia Island, near Venice. While the world you walk through will be of a high quality, the best and most impressive parts are the cut scenes in the game. They are all hand drawn and possess a horribly creepy vibe, but each one gives you an extra insight into the world you’re thrust into. It sets the tone brilliantly for this game and although you may look forward to seeing them, they’ll also put seeds of unease in your mind.
An aspect which may be a little off putting to some is the voice acting. It’s done entirely in Italian, with subtitles in English. It takes a little getting used to, but it works incredibly well in the game. The subtitles are translated well enough to give you enough of an idea about how to progress and what’s going on around you. The clarity of the voice acting is also of the highest quality. It’s clear and crisp, and although I’m not fluent in Italian, the whisperings of Renée really give the impression of a young girl slowly losing her mind as she traverses the labyrinthine facility.
LKA.it still have a way to go before they’ll be able to release a full version of The Town of Light, but what they showed me was really promising. The only thing I’d probably recommend they add into the game is the character reading out the notes she finds so that non-Italian speaking audiences can enjoy them too, and it wouldn’t break the immersion. It’s a small complaint of what could well become the Pan’s Labyrinth of video games, if they manage to finish the game with the same artistry and spine-chilling elements they’ve put into the game so far.
You can learn more about the game from their website, located at the Town of Light.com.